Explain the main Steps in Breeding a New Genetic Variety of a Crop.
The main steps in breeding a new genetic variety of a crop are:
Collection of variability:
Collection and preservation of all the different wild varieties, species and relatives of the cultivated species is a pre-requisite for effective exploitation of natural genes available in the populations. The entire collection of plants/seeds having all the diverse alleles for all genes in a given crop is called germplasm collection.
Evaluation and selection of parents:
The germplasm is evaluated so as to identify plants with desirable combination of characters. The selected plants are multiplied and used in the process of hybridization. Pure lines are created wherever desirable and possible.
Cross hybridisation among the selected parents:
The desired characters have very often to be combined from two different plants (parents), for example high protein quality of one parent may need to be combined with disease resistance from another parent. This is possible by cross hybridizing the two parents to produce hybrids that genetically combine the desired characters in one plant.
Selection and testing of superior recombinants:
This step consists of selecting, among the progeny of the hybrids, those plants that have the desired character combination. The selection process is crucial to the success of the breeding objective and requires careful scientific evaluation of the progeny. This step yields plants that are superior to both of the parents (very often more than one superior progeny plant may become available). These are self-pollinated for several generations till they reach a state of uniformity (homozygosity), so that the characters will not segregate in the progeny.
Testing, release and commercialization of new cultivars:
The newly selected lines are evaluated for their yield and other agronomic traits of quality, disease resistance, etc. This evaluation is done by growing these in the research fields and recording their performance under ideal fertilizer application irrigation, and other crop management practices. The evaluation in research fields is followed by testing the materials in farmers’ fields, for at-least three growing seasons at several locations in the country, representing all the agroclimatic zones where the crop is usually grown. The material is evaluated in comparison to the best available local crop cultivar- a check or reference cultivar.